Egyptian cabinet dismisses reports that new law allows random street drug tests

Ahram Online , Wednesday 10 Apr 2019

Part of the activities of FDCTA in schools and other awareness campaigns organised by “You’re Stronger than Drugs”

The Egyptian cabinet’s media centre dismissed on Wednesday recent reports that the Ministry of Social Solidarity was preparing a draft law that allowed for random drug testing in the streets for regular citizens.

The Ministry of Social Solidarity has said that drug tests will be limited to state employees in administrative and governmental bodies, saying that the reports are "just rumors."

The ministry says that it will be intensifying efforts to detect drug abuse among employees in ministries and institutions, in accordance with directives from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and recommendations from the cabinet. The ministry stresses that the drug testing process is conducted with strict confidentiality without disclosing any of the data of the persons being tested.

The ministry also pointed out that the Fund for Drug Control and the Treatment of Addiction is working on intensifying campaigns to detect drug use among school bus drivers, as well as motorists on highways across all Egyptian governorates.

An anti-drug fund affiliated with the social solidarity ministry offers free-of-charge, confidential treatment for drug users. The fund's hotline (16023) has been announced at state bodies and universities.

Last Month, the Egyptian parliament approved a draft law that mandates drug tests for state employees, with possible firings for those who test positive or evade the test.

The step came after public and official calls for stiffer penalties for government employees who test positive for drugs, after a railway employee involved in a deadly train crash that killed more than 30 people in early March tested positive for narcotics.

The bill requires prospective and existing employees at ministries, state companies, local authorities and other state bodies to undergo a drug test before being hired, promoted, awarded a contract or having their contract renewed, the cabinet said in a statement.

For existing employees, the test will be carried out without prior notice. Those who test positive will be "suspended from work by the force of law," the cabinet said.
The new regulations also apply to those working at orphanages, care houses, rehabilitation centres, nurseries, schools and private hospitals.

The bill mandates that employees who refrain from undergoing tests or deliberately evade them without a plausible excuse will be terminated from their jobs.

The draft law has been referred to parliament for approval.

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